Politics: Should Property People Take Sides?

One interesting aspect of the current political impasse is that property people have started to very openly take party sides.

I’ve blogged before that several developers have told me, but only off the record, that they wanted Labour to win the general election because the housebuilding industry had generally enjoyed an easy time off Blair and then Brown.

There were bureaucratic irritations like section 106 agreements but Labour’s high density fetishism meant few people cared when new homes got conspicuously smaller and flats were built in seemingly-endless numbers – and most developers did quite well, thank you very much. When first Boris Johnson and then Grant Shapps started demanding more from housebuilders ahead of what they anticipated would be a Tory government, the property industry started to complain.

But whereas developers have kept very quiet, estate agents and other property professionals like PR officers have been openly partisan during the election.

Twitter has splendidly informal barriers and many users seamlessly message their ‘followers’ on personal and professional matters alike. But people publicly associated with Savills, Cluttons, London estate agency Douglas & Gordon and Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo private sales website have tweeted sharply anti-Labour statements in recent weeks.

Several PRs working for agencies with property industry clients have also backed the Tories openly, often citing Conservative property policies for their stance. Another PR known for his firm’s property marketing is actively tweeting pro-LibDem messages.

Now the overtly Labour building magazine editor Jason Orme has complained about the degree of anti-Gordon Brown tweeting from some property people. This is distinctly odd, given that his messages are equally partisan in another direction – “Not a good week for this lover of all things red” he wrote just after the general election.

I don't agree with his criticisms. As a journalist bought up to keep his party allegiance to himself, I welcome this openness from those who are able to take sides. At least the individuals have the guts to say what they believe.

But I wonder if there is commercial fall-out.

What if a Labour MP wants to sell her or his flat in central London? It looks like Douglas & Gordon might be a loser there. I know someone who did not ask Knight Frank to pitch for the instruction on the sale of their country house because, back in 2002, KF people were openly urging individuals to go on the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance march in central London.

There is no right or wrong to this but the topic is an interesting aside in these most political of days. Should political views and property professionals mix in public? And if so, will people pay a price in lost business?

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